Sunday, November 25, 2012

Look What I Am Buying at the TpT Sale!

Has anyone else spent the last few days filling an imaginary shopping cart at TpT? At last look, I had over 80 items squished in there. (In my mind, that imaginary cart is overflowing, and I keep having to pick up the items that fall out!) Mind you, I haven't put anything back yet either!

I love the TpT Sale!

Why? First, it often amazes me that many "teacher books" are not written by teachers. A real teacher would not ask you to gather up 46 different items in order to complete one of the simple projects listed on page 3 (usually prefaced with words like "easy" or "simple"). I have 32 kids, folks. Few things are "easy"--and certainly not things that send me to five specialty stores and expect me to order materials from the Internet--three weeks in advance! I once attempted to do an "easy" pyramid project from one of these books. The project called for "wheat paste." Two hours of searching (and a moment of panic regarding my child who was on a gluten-free diet) spelled the beginning and ending of the wheat paste pyramid project.

Whoa. Got a bit sidetracked there! What I wanted to say was that TpT materials are designed by real teachers--often by teachers who have already used these very items--or something similar--in their own classrooms. They understand the limitations of teacher budgets and patience--and they rarely ask you to find wheat paste. I have paid almost twenty dollars for many "teacher books" that sit unused on my shelves.  Most of the items available at TpT are less than ten dollars. Many are less than five dollars! And on the rare occasion that something is more than ten dollars, it is worth it!

So I have been looking over the items in my cart and I have been getting excited about teaching! I have lots of great items that I am looking forward to buying, downloading and printing... SOON!

This Monday and Tuesday, LOTS of items will be on sale at TpT. I've been dreaming about TpT's Cyber Monday/Bonus Tuesday for weeks!

Don't forget to use the code, PROMO CODE: CMT12 when the sale starts!

 So jump in the cart (push some of those items aside--but don't wrinkle them, please) and I will give you a little tour of what's on my list...

As you peruse the items below, I made it easy for you... Click on the picture (or the name) and you will be whisked off (running after your cart) to TpT. If you haven't started, it's time to shop. If you think you're finished... Look again!

I have LOTS of task cards by Rachel Lynette. Those are going into my Literacy Centers as soon as I can print them! She has a set of task cards for everything. I bought several "bundles." I like my purchases to be as easy as possible. (I promise her covers aren't blurry like my picture. I haven't figured out that whole screen shot skill yet!) Rachel has almost eight thousand followers, so you know that stuff is high quality!

I have several items created by Katie Klohn. I love, love, LOVE having a BloggyFriend who teaches sixth grade. I'll let you in on a little secret: Katie teaches language arts, but I love her math task cards too. (So cute and easy to follow). So, I am buying math and language arts activities from Miss Katie! Now that you see them, I bet you want them too!

And then there is Ashley Hughes' clip art. I love it because it speaks for itself. Ashley's clip art is perfect for Smartboard and ActivInspire flipcharts because it has clean lines and the images stand out on a page. I have her geometric solids and a few others sets in my cart, but I am kind of partial to these mini composition books too!

And then there's Ashleigh Swinford's Prefix and Suffix of the Week. I've blog-talked to at least five different people who have this item in their carts too! You've got to get this! You don't want to be the only one who doesn't have Ashleigh's pack, do you? It looks wonderfully organized and, I admit, I love the Melonheadz graphics on the front! I bet Ashleigh will sell hundreds of this one!

With Katie Klohn's help, I found a new seller on TpT. Her name is Jen Bengal and she is currently a Literacy Coordinator for grades three to five, but her products include middle grades. Jen's products are grade-specific and common core aligned. Those aren't just buzz words--those are heaps of awesomeness! I may have about twenty items from her in my cart and they all look wonderful. I think Jen may actually be organizing my literacy instruction for the reminder of the year. Oh. Happy. Day.

There are three special sellers on my list--as always. I think I own at least half of the items in each of their stores--maybe more! So I just have to give a big SHOUT OUT to my Bloggy Buddies...

I adore Stephanie from Teaching in Room 6. Her Calendar Math is legendary! But I am pretty excited about her Poet-trees unit too! Stephanie lives a couple hundred miles from me--but often I feel like is teaching right next door...

Jen Runde's Interactive Math Journal materials are in LOTS of classrooms. I have learned so much (about so much) from dear Ms. Runde. And, like Stephanie, she's just a FABULOUS friend and Blogger Extraordinaire. I already own this item, but if you don't, you should put it in your cart NOW.

Then there is our fairy godsister, Tara from 4th Grade Frolics, revered for her Makin' It Monday Link-Ups (and the reason that two-thirds of my garage was cleaned this summer)! I'm getting these writing journals from my pal, Tara. You know, I have often thought I could hear Tara's laughter--even though I have never met her. Just. Plain. Sweet.

Finally, I am celebrating a little milestone of my own! It took me six days, three half gallons of ice cream, buckets of tears, and plenty of consolation and encouragement (of all kinds!)... but I finally have a store or my own. It's just one item--and one freebie, but it represents a lot of work--and a lot of growth. I guess you really can teach an old dog new tricks! If you or anyone you know wants some card games to practice working with integers, I know JUST where you can get some!

Well yesterday has turned into tomorrow, and I promised Shuna from Pocketful of Kinders that I would link up! There were my offerings. Why not click the (very cute) button below and see what other people are buying.

Wishing you happy shopping and happiness in general. Are you glad you've found your way into BlogLand?

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving... Blessings and Decorations

Happy Thanksgiving, BloggyFriends!

Graphic by Pink Cat Studio

One of my favorite things about Thanksgiving is setting the table. I love shopping for dishes--I don't have to worry about whether or not things fit (me)! And my obsession with all things matching is given free reign! And since I cannot cook, I have to rely on things looking pretty!

Here is this year's tablescape...

Happy Sigh.


I rarely have people over... My house is usually filled with school stuff. You'd have to be an acrobat to leap over the piles of books and papers that generally fill the living room.

Although I have lived in the same, tiny little place forever, few of my friends have ever seen my home. It's very small, but just perfect for the two of us (If only it had a bigger garage...)

Today, however, the house is clean and ready for company! So come on in... I'll give you a little tour...

I didn't stop my decorating at the table. I found lots of great sales and just had fun
finding little trinkets, and pillows, and fall-colored things... and great bargains!


There are new rugs at the entry way. 

(These pics are for you, Kristen)

 (I've always hated that rose-colored tile. I try to hide it in any way I can!) 

Were you keeping track?
Did you notice that the wreath on the door matches the centerpiece and the napkin rings?
Another. Happy. Sigh!

Even the kitchen got a mini fall make-over...

I found some new fun fall pillows too (Normally they aren't all on the couch--I just put them all there so that you wouldn't be seeing fourteen photos of pillows!

 Fall colors were splashed everywhere!

Here's the hors d'oeuvre table ready for snacks. I love those little jeweled knives--and the pumpkin bowl! (I ate cereal out of it this morning!)

Notice all of my pictures are before the food! 

I am blessed to have talented family members and friends who brought over their yummy accouterments so that we had a DELICIOUS meal and, I admit, the hubs cooked the turkey! I made the green bean casserole (according to the package directions)... and I came up with the idea for pomegranate margaritas (although I didn't make those either). The dessert was another one of my purchases--but it was delicious--and stress free!

We had a wonderful evening! I loved having my great niece and nephew over to visit (YIKES! That makes me sound like I am 93 years old!), and it was the first time my niece chose a wine glass at her place at the table--even though she chose water as her beverage. We began with a prayer of gratefulness for all that we have, and added a desire to be conscious of those who do not have enough. We recalled those who were not celebrating with us and rejoiced in those who were were there at the table. We simply delighted in being together.

Thanksgiving is a time to enjoy family and friends and I am thankful that I had a chance to do just that. It was a memory-making day that will get tucked away in my mental scrapbook to be visited--with a smile--often.

Thanks for stopping by to visit. I am thankful for my BlogBuddies too, and I continue to count you among my many blessings...

Monday, November 19, 2012

Conferences... Done! (Almost)

Thirty-one conferences finished and one to go!

Fonts by Jessica Stanford

It seems like every year I try a different strategy to make conferences run more smoothly. And, every year, I think: Next year I am going to try something different!

My conferences are twenty minutes long, and I usually end up wishing I had a half an hour instead. After eight or nine conferences in a row, I am asking myself: "What were you thinking?! If these conferences were half an hour long, your comments would be completely nonsensical! You don't even remember your OWN name, not to mention the name of the child in front of you!" (More than once, I had to look at the child and think (quickly!): Oh yes, I DO remember you!)

Graphic by Scrappin Doodles
I have parents whose schedules vary greatly, so I try to have a "something for everyone" approach to conference scheduling. Kids come to conferences too, so that requires a further twist to the arrangement. I choose one day to stay late and a few mornings to come in extra early. (Our start time for kids is 7:40, so "extra early" is EARLY!) I was surprised that some parents chose the 6:40 to 7:00 AM slot. And I was not surprised to find there was competition for the 6:40 to 7:00 PM slot! As it stands, everyone found a time that worked for them (and one family that is still rescheduling).

The schedule for conferences tends to unfold like this:
Fonts by Jessica Stanford

Of course my favorite part is the student presentations. Students deliver a presentations about their progress in sixth grade. Although they have note cards, they cannot read them; they have key words that prompt them for each element of their presentation. There are four "categories" that the students talk about: The subject I am best at... The subject I need to improve on (or the subject I find challenging)... My behavior in class and at school... and My favorite thing about sixth grade... followed by a heart-felt: "Any questions?"

Originally the students wrote a statement to match each category.

Then they eliminated the superfluous words, leaving them with the key words or "talking points." They were only allowed FIVE, so they had to choose carefully. This type of thinking (and some extra practice time) helped to cement the comments into their minds--which reduced their nervousness--at least a little.

They were able to look at the key words and then express their sentiments in a sentence or two as they spoke about each category. So, one of my "math-magicians" was able to look at this card, hold it behind his back and then recreate his sentence: "The subject I am best at is math because decimals are easy and algebra is challenging and fun."

I was (as always) amazed at their poise and candor. Some of them were able to embellish their comment cards with very little difficulty. There were a few giggles, one round of tears, numerus sighs of relief, and plenty of smiles.


I took "action notes" so that I could follow up on questions, suggestions and requests, which resulted in a To Do list that I hope to complete soon (before I lose it!). I have flash cards to find, kids to add to my tutoring group, a few grades to re-investigate, and some books to purchase that students have requested.

One last discovery... While looking for some "parent-teacher-student conference clip art," I found a set at Scrappin' Doodles (There is so much cute stuff there!) The set included some adorable graphics and this sweet apple comment. I need to figure out how to thank some parents for their involvement and I need to discover a way to encourage some parents to take a more active part in supporting their kids' learning. 

I just like what this little apple says! I'm thinking of a conference thank-you note...
(And I am definitely going to use this graphic for Back-to-School meetings next year!)

Graphic by Scrappin Doodles

I hope that your conferences went smoothly... and that you are looking forward to at least a few days away from school this week. I have so much to be thankful for... and vacation days are currently on my list!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Curently... November!

Ahhhh..... Farley's Currently. It puts order in my life--or, at least, reminds me of what month it is!

November is just-so-crazy! There are far too many things to do--and simply not enough hours in a day. It seems as if a few weeks ago, the students were learning how to put their names on their papers... and now they are expected type an expository piece using textual evidence to support their claim! (And, still, those names are not on their papers!)

We are hosting Thanksgiving at our house (I don't cook), so we had to get the carpets cleaned. A one evening vacation felt like a paradise to me. And to come back to an "empty" (of school stuff) house with clean carpets was pretty amazing. (Shhhhhhh. Don't let anyone look in the garage...)

I loved the music link on this month's Currently. I like to play "background music" in the mornings when the students come in and during most of the "quiet activities" in our day.  I prefer to use music that is NOT based on songs I know--I have a bad habit of breaking into song just after I've gotten them comfortably settled! One of my favorites is Daydreaming: Relaxing Guitar. I like this collection because it is calming, but not (completely) sleep-inducing. And they are all original pieces so you won't be tempted to belt out "You've Got a Friend" in the middle of independent reading. Click here to take a listen on iTunes. Or at least to show you a picture--I think iTunes needs to be open for you to listen to the music... or you need to do something else that I don't know how to do... If there were more hours in a day, I could learn a few more technology tips!

Now, click on over to Farley's and get your Currently linked up. Remember to show some love to the links before and after your. I have made new BlogFriends EVERY time I have completed a Currently, and I know you will too.

Wishing you a happy November!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

We've Got Tissues, Yes We Do!

My kids know I have to have everything matching everything else in the classroom. It just makes me HAPPY!

And they laughed, recently, when I bought a package of three boxes of tissues. As soon as I opened the package, I had to give one box away to another teacher--because the box was GRAY and BROWN!

I have a wonderful friend who shares my sentiments about what my kids call "matchy matchy." I didn't know until this school year that there would be a meme that applied to me!

At the end of the summer, my friend hits all the Back-to-School sales, and buys things that are needed in my classroom: pencils, erasers, tissues... all of those needed items of which you can simply never have enough (For my grammar-watchers, I had to rework that sentence three times so that it would not end in a preposition!)

We can't ask for supplies at our school, and many of the kids come to school each day without a pencil, so this is a Treasure Trove of Goodness that is put to use from that very first day in September.

This year, my friend brought me (among other delights) an assortment of tissues that match my room. LOVE THEM! They are stored in a big bag in the closet--and I have the option of selecting a box based on the color of the area or the color of my mood. Either way, I know it will always be a box that fits the decor. {Contented sigh!}

My room is filled with bright colors: purple, magenta, hot pink, lime, bright blue and turquoise (with an occasional splat of orange). And look at this...

Yep! Happy City!

So, as the sniffles and snurfles begin to take over my room, I just grab another colorful box... with thankful thoughts for good friends and tissue boxes that match...